Monday, April 10, 2017

Do we value lives, or ideology? Something needs to give on gun violence

Events across the nation demonstrate that there is a gun crisis

Tonight, a family has been dealt an unfathomable loss. A gunman entered an elementary school in San Bernardino, California, with one thing on his mind. He was there to confront his estranged wife. He shot and killed her, and then killed himself.

In doing so, he also shot two schoolchildren. One of them, an eight-year-old, passed away shortly after.


I can only imagine what heartbreak this family is going through tonight. But this isn’t the only tragedy that occurred today — on average, seven children die from gun violence daily. That means that six other families likely are also grieving tonight as a result of guns. Their loss is also devastating, beyond what any words here could describe.


And right now as we speak, a man is traversing southern Wisconsin with a deranged mission on his mind. This man stole a cache of weaponry, and is by all accounts planning something that can only end in more tragedy. He is anti-government, and anti-religious. Schools and places of worship have been closed or placed on high alert. No one knows what this individual might do. Some have described the situation as a “ticking time bomb.”


We need to be honest with ourselves as a nation: we have a gun problem. More so than any other advanced nation on earth, the United States as a problem with gun violence, to the extent that we can honestly label it as a health crisis. This issue needs to be addressed, but unfortunately our nation treats this problem on a case-by-case basis. We refuse to believe the problem extends beyond the specific circumstances.

To some extent, it’s an understandable position to adopt. There are plenty of gun owners who don’t commit heinous crimes. But their ability to refrain from doing so doesn’t dismiss the fact that many individuals — and yes, this includes some who are law-abiding — go out, on a daily basis, and decide to deviate from their normal routines in order to perform acts of violence. Tomorrow someone will die. And the next day, and so on...

I don’t believe any one person or organization has the answer to this crisis. And there will still be violence even if we try to do something about it. But there are myriad options at our disposal that could make this a safer nation.

We could start by requiring that every gun purchase or transfer from one party to another does so through a criminal background check. If a history of violence is evident, that person should not have access to a gun. And where domestic violence has occurred, those who perpetrated the violence should have to surrender their weapons immediately.

These are commonsense actions we can take, and there are more that can be adopted as well. There will obviously be debate from the pro-gun side of things, and that side is entitled to defend their views.

But at some point, we as a nation have to do something about this. We cannot afford to ignore this any longer.

We have to look at each other and ask ourselves, what do we love and value more: our lives, and the lives of families in our communities, or a hunk of metal that represents an ideological argument?

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